Rappers: Is It Better To Be Rich Or Respected?
Photo illustration by John Seaborn Gray

Rappers: Is It Better To Be Rich Or Respected?

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday (that isn't a national holiday) Rocks Off will have some of them hear discussing issues relevant to their culture.

This Week's Panel: Eskabe, Kyle Hubbard, KDogg, Dice, O.N.E., UZOY, Show, Undergravity, D-Risha

Not Invited: Rich and famous rappers; poor(er) but highly respected rappers

This Week's Prompt: This week's question actually comes from a reader. It's fairly simple but easy to lie about it when answering, so I guess that makes it complicated too: Essentially, would you rather be rich and famous and viewed as a subpar rapper, or poor but regarded as an exceptional talent?

Eskabel: That first one doesn't sound too bad.

Kyle Hubbard: Well, that's the biggest question of them all. I've reached the point in my career where being regarded as extremely talented by the right people is far more valuable than being considered cool by the majority of people.

I would just point anyone in the direction of my latest release, Tomorrow In Retrospect, as proof of that. I make the music I make even though I am well aware of the fact that there is good chunk of people it just flat out won't appeal to.

Rappers: Is It Better To Be Rich Or Respected?

But with that said, you can go back even further in my career and see that there was a point I was blatantly trying to appeal to the masses, and that's proof that there was a time when the desire of fame and riches were fueling my movements. But it's not my strength, and that's obvious when you listen to it.

I made a lot of songs I hated in an attempt to reach an audience I have nothing in common with and that I would honestly never get a grasp on. It wasn't until I started to make the music I honestly wanted to make that I found my audience and got noticed.

I started to make music I was proud of and I found my voice. But in the end, the only honest answer an artist can give you is that they want both. No one would be putting in the effort to make music just to go completely unnoticed, but as you grow and experience more the way you perceive the value of the listener evolves and your definition of success changes. If your creative drive is to reach the masses you are disposable.

You have to make the music for the people who really appreciate it, because those are the type of listeners that will give you longevity. Do it for the right people, and maybe one day the masses will smarten up but if they don't, fuck it.

KDogg: If it makes dollars, then it makes sense, so if it don't make make money then it ain't smart.

Dice: Famous [and] rich definitely. We tryna to feed kids. The exception was never accepted, only excepted.

O.N.E.: I would rather be rich and be viewed as a subpar talent, because if public opinion is that you have amazing talent then they would believe and support the product. And if subpar talent can gain supporters faster then super talent, then sign me up.

UZOY: Exceptional talent. I'll get a day job for the money. Why would you want to be a rich and famous wack rapper?

Rap Round Table: "Because you'd be rich and famous" seems like the most sensible answer.

U: Not worth it. I do it for the art first. If I'm going to be wack, I'd rather just do four more years of school.

Show: I'd rather be somewhere in the middle. I couldn't compromise artistic integrity, but I also have a daughter to feed.

Les: Rich with subpar views because once you become mainstream and rich everyone acts like you're commercial and fell off anyway.

Undergravity: See, I rap because I love to. Been doin' this 16 years before it was "the thing to do." So If I make some money doin' it, that's a plus.

D-Risha: To be honest, with artists who are rich and famous have the most fickle fans ever by the thousands, so I would want to have a cult following of a few thousand who support whatever I did.

No matter what, those people would support me financially forever, not by the millions of dollars but by the thousand where I could live okay doing what I love to do in peace.

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